Speed is important in the wild world of the animals. It is a great factor in ensuring life; whether it is to run away from a predator or to run after a prey. The faster an animal is, the more chances it has to get food or run away from its death. Scientifically, “Animals” are divided into many sub-groups which include not only mammals but also birds, fish, and insects. Therefore, this list of top 10 fastest animals in the world includes animals in their true sense-those from the sea, air, as well as the land. The fastest animals include 6 birds, 3 fish, 2 mammals, and 1 insect; the total has reached 12 due to a tie between the speeds of three animals. These fastest animals have certain adaptive features which allow them to master speed such as enlarged and stronger lungs in the case of land animals, skillful use of gravity in the case of airborne animals, and dorsal fins and a long pointed bill in the case of water animals. The speed of these animals has also been used by the humans for entertainment purposes via various sports such as horse racing and sport-fishing.
10. Free-tailed Bat (Mammal)
The Free-tailed bats are known for their strong flying abilities. They have long and narrow wings which enable them to fly fast. Their tail is distinctly long and protrudes out of their tail membrane which helps them in maneuvering during flight. They measure up to 12 cm maximum or 4 cm minimum (excluding their tails) and their wings are 0.5 m across. They can be found in Northern, Southern, and Central America as well as in Mexico. Their habitat includes forests and even deserts where they like to roost in the caves. The main predators of Free-tailed Bat in the air are birds of prey (hawk etc), and on the land are carnivorous mammals and snakes. It’s speed is 96.60 km/ hour which makes it world’s 20th fastest animal.
9. Swordfish (Fish), Ostrich (Bird), Southern Giant Darner (Insect)
Three animals in 9th spot with the same speed. A Swordfish is named after its elongated and pointed bill which helps it not only to be a predator fish but also aids it in swimming. Its average length is 3m and maximum length can be 4.55 m. Swordfish are colored dark blue from above while their underside is whitish. They have a special organ to heat their eyes which improves their vision and makes them a good predator. Interestingly, they do not have teeth but they use their sword like bill to slice across their prey. They are also a popular sporting-fish. Their majority can be found in the Pacific Ocean but they also inhabit the Atlantic and the Indian Oceans. Apart from humans, their predators include killer-whales and sharks.
Although Ostriches are birds that cannot fly but they are apt runners. They are not only the largest birds but also the fastest two-legged animals. Amazingly, they can cover up to 5 meters in a single stride. Their running is aided by their specialized feet with two toes. Also, their wings help them in changing directions while running. Although their legs have formidable strength, enough to kill a lion or a human, but they prefer to run in the case of danger. Ostriches were originally found in Africa (where some people even sat on them to race), South Asia, and Arabia. However, due to the ostrich industry, now they can be found almost all around the World.
The Southern Giant Darner, Austrophlebia Costalis, is a species of Australian dragonfly. Its habitats include forests and wetlands and it inhabits small to medium sized streams. It is said to be the fastest flying odonates with an estimated speed of 97 km/h which makes it the fastest insect.
8. Anna’s Hummingbird (Bird)
Anna’s Hummingbird is a medium sized (3.9-4.3 inches) hummingbird named after a Duchess. It is native to North America. These birds not only fly fast but are also gorgeous looking with emerald green flanks and reddish-pink throat complemented by a long slender beak. They are the only birds known to fly backwards. Male Anna’s Hummingbirds are infamous for their splendid courtship where they fly up to 130 feet in the air and dive towards their female, their tail feathers making a unique noise. Their predators include tree-snakes, curved-billed thrashers, and road runners, to name a few. With the speed of 98.27 km/hr Anna’s Hummingbird takes 8th position in this list of top 10 animals.
7. Sailfish (Fish)
Sailfish is one of the fastest fish of the Oceans. Its average length is about 6 feet. Sailfish has an elongated upper jaw which resembles a spear and is almost twice the size of its lower jaw. This feature allows the Sailfish to have good hydro-dynamics. Its name comes from its dorsal fin which looks like a sail of a ship. Also, it is a common sport-fish. Its main habitats are Atlantic and Indo-Pacific Oceans. Its main predator is the Dolphin fish (mahi mahi) and its speed is 109.19 km/h.
6. Cheetah (Mammal)
A Cheetah is the fastest animal on land and has many adaptive features which allow it to master speed. It not only has a light and lean body but also large heart and lungs, strong arteries, large nostrils, and strong muscles; all the features that ensure efficient use of oxygen and maximization of acceleration. When near maximum speed, a cheetah covers three strides in one second. These animals are mostly found in Africa and Asia. However, they have been ranked as one of the endangered species with only about 10,000 animals remaining. Due to a lack of genetic variation, the Cheetahs have difficulty in adaptation and therefore, are susceptible to ecological and climatic changes. It is interesting to note that most of the lists on this topic make Cheetah the fastest animal in the world but it isn’t. It is the fastest mammal on land with the speed of 120 km/h.
5. Black Marlin (Fish)
Black Marlin is the fastest water animal and one of the great predators. It has a shorter dorsal fin than sailfish and is more solidly built. It has an elongated body and a spear like snout. Its name comes from its similarity to a sailor’s marlinspike. Its maximum length is recorded to be 4.65m. It is a commercial game fish and highly valued when caught. It is found in Indo-Pacific and east-Pacific oceans and its speed is 130 km/h.
4. Frigatebird (Bird)
Frigatebirds are sea birds adept at flying with the speed of 153 km/h. Their flying capability is aided by a large wingspan (215 cm-largest than any other bird). For this reason, they can also stay airborne for even a week. They are black all over with a red throat pouch which is characteristic of their male. Their majority can be found in Pacific Ocean but some are also found in the Atlantic and Indian Oceans. As they spend most of their time in the air, they have a few predators including humans, stoats, and domestic cats.
3. Eurasian Hobby (Bird)
Considered as the great hunter of the skies, the Eurasian Hobby is a small falcon whose speed is 160 km/h. It is known for its spectacular aerobatic skills. Its long and pointed wings help it in its flying feat. While flying, these falcons are capable of bursts of speed and almost impossible turns. Their deadly speed allows them to prey on small birds. A Eurasian Hobby measures up to 12-14 inches in length. It can be found in Asia, Europe, and Africa. Main threats to Eurasian Hobby include illegal hunting and habitat destruction.
2. White Throated Needle Tail (Bird)
The White Throated Needle Tail, previously known as Spine Tailed Swift, is a bird with a very swift flight. It has long wings, short tail, and protruding feather shafts. Its maxim size is 22 cm. The White Throated Needle Tail likes to spend most of its time in the air but roosts in the trees. Its diet mainly includes flying insects. It is found in Australia and its speed is 169 km/h.
1. Peregrine Falcon (Bird)
The Peregrine Falcon is infamous for its speed and is a bird of prey. It is the number one fastest animal in the animal kingdom. It has been used in falconry throughout history and is still considered to be a prized bird. Its length is about 15 inches (about the size of a crow) and a wingspan of 40 inches. It can be found in the North American mountains. It is famous for its hunting stoop. Its diet mainly includes small birds and sometimes it also hunts small mammals. Its own predators include the Eagles, Owls, Gyrfalcons and other Peregrines. The speed of 389 km/h makes it world’s fastest bird as well as animal.